The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) is a signatory of the EPA’s America Recycles Pledge, which commits us to “participate in an ongoing dialogue to identify specific actions that we can take collectively with EPA and the other signatories, and within our respective organization, to improve the nation’s recycling system.”
We are proud to say that one of our newest contributions to this goal is #PlasticRecyclingWeek – a social media-driven event that was piloted in 2021 and continues to this day. This annual, weeklong social media-driven event stimulates meaningful conversation about recycling among over 300,000 participants.
Each year, the PLASTICS Recycling Committee establishes themes to focus on for each day during the week and helps to organize the educational content posted from participant channels. Prior year’s have focused on rallying plastics equipment and material suppliers, processors, brands, and consumers to share what they are currently doing to help achieve progress in plastic recycling.
We look forward to continued collaboration on the improvement of collection, sortation, reprocessing, and market demand of and for recycled plastic. If you want to get more engaged in making these improvements, no matter which segment you fall under, reach out to us at PLASTICS at [email protected]!
This annual campaign continues to educate and stimulate behavior change by promoting curbside, industrial, and community recycling initiatives.
Engaging people on the importance of closing the recycling loop by buying products made with recycled content is also key to creating a sustainable future.
By promoting roadside, industrial, and community recycling efforts, this yearly campaign continues to inform and inspire behavior change.
Here’s a recap of the daily themes from prior years, along with examples of accompanying content.
It has become uncommon for a brand not to have plastic sustainability goals. Of the top 50 Consumer Goods Companies of 2022, 49 of them have sustainability goals relating to plastic.
In the vein of recycling, brands have the responsibility of using recycled content in their products and designing products so they can be recycled at the end of use. Since 2006, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI) has been awarding brands that expertly design their products to be easily and cost effectively recycled within existing recycling infrastructure.
While consumers ultimately hold the responsibility of disposing of products in the proper way, brands are uniquely positioned to influence the market demand of recycled content, which can strongly impact recycling rates. In 2021 alone, NextWave Plastics worked with 14 brands to incentivize the collection and recycling of 959 metric tons of plastic by purchasing this material to be used in 337 premium products such as electronics and furniture.
While the circular economy encompasses all players–from consumers to brands and back again– Wednesday of #PlasticRecyclingWeek focused on those within the plastics industry who have a role in manufacturing plastic products. Equipment Manufacturers & Moldmakers, material suppliers, and processor/convertors have the responsibility of reprocessing a greater volume of used plastic material, integrating more recycled content into new products, and ensuring that their post-industrial scrap is recycled as well.
We had the pleasure of highlighting several industry players and the work they are doing to improve recycling capabilities through technology advancements, expanding recycling capacity, increasing recycled content use, coordinating with supply chain partners, and more. A few examples: Novolex, MAAG Group, Eastman, Coperion, DME Company, Milliken Chemical.
Consumers, similar to brands, have the power to influence market demand of recycled content based on what they purchase. During #PlasticRecyclingWeek, though, we focused more on what consumers can do to recycle more effectively once they have finished using a plastic product. The main advice provided by our experts was:
The week kicked off with a celebration of America Recycles Day, the only nationally recognized day for acknowledging achievements and improvement opportunities for recycling. For the first day of our weeklong event, PLASTICS circulated videos like SciShow’s How Recycling Works and other resources to provide a basic understanding of the complex system that is recycling.
Creating demand for products containing recycled content gives value to the recycled material, incentivizing those in the supply chain to invest in recycling in order to fill that demand. To draw attention to this solution, we highlighted numerous everyday products that contain recycled plastic (e.g., Avient & BIC’s razor with over 60% recycled content).
This was a perfect opportunity to celebrate what we in the plastics industry have already improved upon for the US recycling system. Midweek we encouraged followers to post about innovations they have seen, or that their companies have achieved in the recycling space. One example we spotlighted was our 2021 Re|focus Leadership in Sustainability Innovation Award winner, Chevron Phillips Chemical and their Marlex® Anew™ Circular Polyethylene, made using advanced recycling technology.
One particular technology innovation that has gained much recent traction is Advanced Recycling. The industry is currently in the midst of numerous discussions about this technology and its potential benefit as a complement mechanical recycling in increasing recycling rates. Thursday was all about highlighting companies leading in this exciting new area, such as BASF, Braskem, Eastman, and ExxonMobil.
There is no way to fit all there is to know about recycling into one week of posts! So, on the final day of Plastic Recycling Week, we pointed out a handful of resources that interested participants can utilize to continue learning about current events in the recycling industry, as well as how to be effective players in the recycling system. ThisIsPlastics.com is an especially good resource to follow.